Tabletop Review: Atlantis Rising
By: Chad Christian (TapRackBang)
Atlantis Rising from Elf Creek Games is another 2021 convention find of mine. While the game has been around since 2012, they released the second edition in 2019. I can’t remember much between the years of late 2019 to mid-2021, so when Origins Game Fair resurfaced after COVID, the game was fresh news to me. Atlantis Rising is a cooperative game for one to seven players. The premise behind the game is that you’ve angered the gods, Atlantis is sinking, and you and your fellow Atlanteans are trying to gather enough resources to build a device that will spirit you away from the continent before it is lost forever beneath the waves. Players choose from and assume the role of one of a variety of professions, each offering unique abilities and perks to aid in the group’s survival. In each round, players place their workers on the tiles which compose the continent, hope those workers’ tiles don’t sink in unfortunate events, gather resources, and suffer the wrath of the gods.
Naturally, the first thing that stood out to me was the artwork and aesthetics. Vivid colors and attractive artwork adorn the box and the several game pieces within, as well as the rulebook and character sheets. It’s also worth noting that, while the meeples are the typical generic humanoid representation, the character sheets offer both female and male representations of each role on either side of the card. It’s impossible to personalize a limited amount of pieces for every identity out there, but I thought this was a nice touch. Of course, being at the convention, they also offered a premium neoprene mat with designated areas for the tokens, game pieces, and tiles that compose the continent itself. The mat continues and greatly enhances the theme with the same bright colors and eye-catching design. Like most premium pieces, it’s not necessary to play and enjoy the game; in this case, though, it does greatly add to the visual presentation. Of course, I also have to discuss the box itself. The tray insert is excellently intuitive, with designated spaces for just about every piece of the game. Some of the generic slots leave you with options on where you’d like to store some of the tokens, but overall it is a highly satisfying game to unpack and store when you’re finished.
The rulebook can be slightly overwhelming at first, but the flow of the game is quite logical and unobtrusive. They offer different levels of difficulty that scale with the amount of players, including a robust solo mode that doesn’t feel lacking. It’s worth noting that we did have to reference the rulebook quite a few times in our first couple of plays, and our first game came right down to the wire as we had misinterpreted a rule that made things much more difficult. Our second time through, we actually found it to be almost too easy on the lower difficulty, though, of course, experiences vary depending on the variables provided. Regardless, take your time to learn it, especially if you’re not as familiar with this style of game, and enjoy the process. Maybe some wording in the ruleset could be a bit clearer, but I won’t nitpick at that as I often tend to read things in a different language than what it’s written. Once we read back through and understood what was going on, the rulebook made more sense. I haven’t read through it yet, so I’m not sure if/how much it is updated, but they do have a downloadable PDF ruleset on their website.
With the increased capacity for players at the table, a solid solo mode, and the aforementioned difficulty settings, the replayability offered in Atlantis Rising is on the higher end of the scale. With the deck of misfortunes, calamity can ensue at any time or leave you with some calm, receding waters that offer a brief reprieve. Then, of course, there are the several different professions to choose from that can further alter the experience. Elf Creek has also released some expansions over the last couple of years that can add more variety, though I haven’t yet had the pleasure of playing any. These expansions consist of Medusa Unleashed, released in 2020, and Monstrosities, available for preorder and releasing sometime this year.
There truly isn’t much to complain about when it comes to Atlantis Rising. Setup may take you a few minutes, but the gameplay is very smooth, and again if you take your time at first, the initial learning curve isn’t that steep either. The core gameplay is pretty straightforward, and while it doesn’t clock in on the top of my “all-time favorites” list, it’s a solid addition to the game shelves. I give Atlantis Rising 7 mystic barriers out of 10. You can find the base game and more on Elf Creek’s website for $65.